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Less than half a million returned in first year of Missouri's gas tax refunds

by Ryan Pivoney | March 19, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
In this Feb. 22, 2018 photo, MoDOT employees are eastbound on U.S. 50 in Jefferson City, stopping to fill potholes that, due to rain and freezing temperatures, cropped up in large numbers. (News Tribune photo)

Missourians filed more than 16,200 refund applications on the state's most recent tax increase on gasoline.

The average payout was $27.86, according to a Missouri Department of Revenue spokeswoman.

State lawmakers passed the first increase on motor fuel since the 1990s in 2021. It imposed a 2.5-cent-per-gallon increase to the state's existing gas tax in October 2021 and again in July 2022. The tax will continue to increase by 2.5 cents each July through 2025 for a total increase of 12.5 cents per gallon. Starting July 1, 2025, Missouri's gas tax will be 29.9 cents per gallon.

DOR began accepting gas tax refund claims July 1, 2022 under a provision in the legislation that raised the tax. The provision allows consumers to save receipts and file a refund claim for the amount of increased fuel tax they've paid since it was implemented.

So far, claims have only been for the 2.5 cent increase in effect from Oct. 1, 2021 through July 1, 2022. Taxpayers were required to file claims between July 1, 2022 and Oct. 1, 2022.

Anne Marie Moy, DOR director of strategy and communications, said the department received 16,218 total fund claims and paid out a total of $433,591.32.

Of the 16,218 refund claims submitted, she said 15,726 came from individuals and 492 came from businesses.

Refund claims for the 5 cent increase taxed from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 will be filed July 1 through Oct. 2. The department will start issuing those refunds after July 1, Moy said.

The first year of claims is far lower than fiscal projections attached to the legislation as it was prepared.

The state Budget and Planning Office's fiscal analysis of the legislation projects the increase on 15-100 percent of qualified gas purchases could be refunded. At 15 percent, the state would be refunding $11.7 million and at 100 percent the state would be refunding $78 million.

"The number of refund applications could vary substantially," the fiscal note states.

Reactions to the refund provision among Columbia drivers were mixed, according to reporting from the Missouri Independent.

The tax is estimated to generate about $1.8 billion for road repairs in the next five years. Approximately $1.3 billion will go to the Missouri Department of Transportation for highway repairs and about $500 million will flow to city and county governments to support transportation infrastructure. Increased fees on alternative fuel vehicles are also supporting the estimated revenue.

The refund provision was created to gain the support of conservative lawmakers who were opposed to the gas tax increase because it was not directly approved by voters in an election. Several pushed efforts to repeal, suspend or alter the gas tax the legislative session directly after it was passed.

The gas tax increase and MoDOT's use of the fund it supplies continues to give some Republican lawmakers heartburn.

The paper refund claim form is 4923-H Highway Use Motor Fuel Refund Claim for Rate Increases. Motorists can also submit refund claims through the department's online system.

The claim form requires a worksheet so motorists don't have to submit gas receipts. DOR recommends keeping fuel receipts for three years, however, so it can review claims.

The claim must include how many gallons were purchased for each vehicle operated by the resident or business that owns it.

Receipts to prove the claim must have the name and address of the retailer, price paid for gas, total gallons purchased and indicate payment was made at the time of purchase.

The refund is not available to companies operating semi-trucks or vehicles with a rated capacity of more than 26,000 pounds.

Print Headline: Less than half a million returned in first year of gas tax refunds


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